Friends Music Camp, Godzilla come to town
- Published: August 3, 2017
Friends Music Camp, founded by two Yellow Springs Quakers, has a history of “campers coming to their own interests and things bubbling up,” said villager Rourke Papania, a current camp staff member and former camper.
One of the threads that runs through this summer’s month-long residential camp, now in its 37th year — and its second located on the campus of Earlham College — is Godzilla, Papania said.
The mythical monster is the subject of this year’s all-camp musical theater production performed for visitors the last weekend camp is in session.
What’s more, a symphonic arrangement of rock band Blue Öyster Cult’s “Godzilla” is scheduled to be on the program Saturday evening, July 29, when the entire camp comes to Yellow Springs to perform a concert to benefit Glen Helen. The concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. at the Foundry Theater on the Antioch Collge campus.
The local concert, typically the last Saturday in July, is a camp tradition, started just a few years after its founding. Before the Glen became the beneficary in the early 2000s, the concerts benefited the Jicaro sister village association, which was active in town through the 1990s. More than 200 people reportedly attended last year’s concert, which raised over $2,100 for the Glen.
In addition to the symphony orchestra, which for the first time in camp history combines the string orchestra and concert band, the concert will feature Papania, who said he will perform a couple of original songs.
The 2012 Yellow Springs High School grad was a founder of the popular local bluegrass and old-time band Wheels, which had its roots in FMC. He continued making music as a political science and geography student at Ohio University, where he graduated in 2016.
This is his fourth year on staff at FMC. The first two he served as a dorm counselor. Last year he started teaching a “guitar-sing” class, in which he helps campers learn how to play their instrument and sing at the same time. This year, he added an acting class to his responsibilities.
He admits to some “mixed feelings” about the camp’s move to Earlham last year from its longtime home on the campus of Olney Friends School in Barnesville, Ohio.
Earlham has a “state-of-the-art” performing arts facility, built in 2014. “It’s got a beautiful recital hall, a black box for theater and practice rooms with Steinway pianos.” Olney was “very rustic.” The heat and humidity of Ohio summers were part of camp life, as the school does not have air conditioning.
“When I was a camper, my guitar would get rusty,” he said, describing the effects of the intense humidity. At the same time, he said the heat forced campers to leave their rooms and go outdoors, where they spent time together.
“Everything’s just a little more comfortable” at Earlham, he said.
He noted that the camp staff is hoping the new facilities will attract more young people to attend the camp, which while founded on Quaker values is open to all youth ages 10–18. The only requirement is that they have at least a year of lessons in an instrument.
The camp’s co-director, Nick Hutchinson, said that 46 young people enrolled for this year’s camp, with a dozen of the campers coming from Yellow Springs. Nine younger students chose the two-week option and went home Sunday, July 23. The remaining 37 will be coming to Yellow Springs on Saturday aboard a Richmond, Ind., school bus. All will perform in the benefit concert as part of the all-camp chorus.
Hutchinson said that local soloists in the concert, in addition to Papania, will include Eleanor Buehrig, on ukelele and vocals, and Julia Hoff, who will sing.
The concert also will feature faculty performances as well as two other campers who are not from town.
Other local connections to camp this summer include villager Corrie Van Ausdale, who for the past decade has directed (and often written) the camp musical, and longtime multi-instrumentalist teacher Martha Hyde, who lives in Brooklyn, but grew up in Yellow Springs, where she still has many family members.
Tickets for Saturday’s concert are $10 for adults and $6 for students. Admission is free for children three and younger. Advance tickets are available online through the Glen Helen website, http://www.glenheln.org/Friends-music-camp-concert.